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1/17/2018 12:42:00 PM
Indiana House to eye 'gross' tattoo bill; scleral procedure colors the white of the eye

Scott L. Miley, Herald Bulletin CNHI Statehouse Bureau

INDIANAPOLIS — Dubbed the “grossest” bill facing the Indiana General Assembly, legislation banning scleral tattooing passed through the Senate on Tuesday despite concern that no one in the state has apparently been harmed by the procedure.

Senate Bill 158, authored by Sen. John Ruckelshaus, R-Indianapolis, would prohibit scleral tattooing, which involves either scarring or inserting pigment under the eye’s mucus membrane to fill the white of the eye with color.

“Basically, this is the practice of certain tattoo artists who use instruments ... to impregnate the eye below a certain tissue level to inject an ink

to give one a certain color of their eyeball,” Ruckelshaus explained. “It allows certain physicians to be able to do this practice, which, I guarantee you, no one will.

“As a matter of fact, this bill has been dubbed the grossest bill of this legislative session,” Ruckelshaus added.

In 2017, a Canadian model, Catt Gallinger, told national news outlets that she nearly lost her eye when a procedure failed and left purple ink oozing out of it.

The bill was suggested to Ruckelshaus by a neighbor he identified as an executive with the Indiana Ophthalmology Association. There is no organization by that name, but there is an Indiana Academy of Ophthalmology. Under questioning on the Senate floor by Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, Ruckelshaus was asked whether any Hoosiers had been harmed by the procedure. He said he knew of none.

Anyone illegally performing the procedure could face a $10,000 civil fine.

After a 42-5 vote on the bill by the Senate, it will be considered in the House.

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